Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Texas will receive his 2013 USAC Hall of Fame recognition plaque January 17 in Tulsa, Okla. as part of the festivities surrounding this year’s National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
“Lone Star J.R.,” as Rutherford is affectionately known, captured Indianapolis 500s in 1974, 1976 and 1980 and won USAC’s National Sprint Car title in 1965. He added the USAC Indy Car crown in 1980. A multiple Hall of Fame member, he also won three Indianapolis 500 poles and scored 20 Championship car wins and eight in USAC Sprints. In 1986 he added the Michigan 500 to his resume and he’s also a five-time IROC veteran. USAC’s 2000 Roger McCluskey Award winner has had heavy involvement as a driver coach and pace car driver for Indy Car events and in 1963 set a world qualifying record during NASCAR stock car competition at Daytona Beach, Fla. He followed that by winning his initial NASCAR start – a 100-miler at Daytona!
Rutherford was among a dozen 2013 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame who were originally scheduled to be honored during May at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. That event, part of the USAC “Hall of Fame” Silver Crown Championship race activity, was cancelled due to weather and extended activity that evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Therefore, plaques have been distributed to the recipients in the days and weeks since and the Tulsa venue provided the opportunity for J.R.’s presentation, to be emceed by nationally-renowned broadcaster Pat Sullivan.
The Friday, January 17 ceremony will be held in the Exchange Center, located on the Tulsa State Fairgrounds to the north of the Chili Bowl Midget race venue, and it begins at 11 a.m. Inductees into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame to be honored include Wayne Adams, Emil Andres, George Benson, Dan Boorse, Dominic Distarce, Les Kimbrell, Cletus “Cowboy” O’Rourke and Jigger Sirois.
Inducted into USAC’s Hall of Fame during 2013 including Rutherford were: Earl Baltes, Henry Banks, Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Jack Hewitt, Al and Bobby Unser, A.J. Watson, Don White and Bob Wilke.